Dis­play of rare items marks 75th an­niver­sary of Pearl Har­bor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES - By Philip Marcelo

NATICK, MASS. >> Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt de­clared it a “date which will live in in­famy” — and three­quar­ters of a cen­tury later, relics from that au­da­cious at­tack still con­jure strong emo­tions.

A new ex­hi­bi­tion com­mem­o­rat­ing the 75th an­niver­sary of the Pearl Har­bor at­tack that drew the United States into World War II is open­ing at a pri­vate, non­profit mu­seum west of Bos­ton that’s open to the pub­lic by ap­point­ment.

The Natick-based Mu­seum of World War II’s “Why We Still Re­mem­ber” dis­play chron­i­cles the mood in the U.S. and Ja­pan lead­ing up to and af­ter the Dec. 7, 1941, at­tack by Ja­pan.

Mu­seum founder Ken­neth Ren­dell sug­gests the themes - in­clud­ing the ris­ing na­tion­al­ism in Ja­pan and the com­pla­cency in the U.S. to the grow­ing threat in a part of the world few Amer­i­cans un­der­stood - should res­onate today in the times of the Is­lamic State group and other foes.

“We un­der­es­ti­mated the Ja­panese ter­ri­bly. Ev­ery­one was pay­ing at­ten­tion to Europe, no one was pay­ing at­ten­tion to Asia,” he says. “It ex­plains a lot about why we were caught flat-footed. That’s the im­por­tance of learn­ing from his­tory. It’s hav­ing re­spect for the en­emy.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion, which opened Satur­day and runs through Jan. 7, 2017, fea­tures ar­ti­facts evok­ing the im­pe­ri­al­is­tic am­bi­tions of Ja­pan in the years lead­ing up to the at­tack, when Ja­panese news ac­counts and pro­pa­ganda cel­e­brated vic­to­ries over China in the two na­tions’ bat­tles in the 1930s.

Those pieces are con­trasted with the is­land par­adise of hula girls and sandy beaches captured in pho­to­graphs taken by U.S. ser­vice­men sta­tioned at Pearl Har­bor, which is lo­cated just west of Honolulu, Hawaii, and is the headquarters of the Pa­cific Fleet.

Then there is the at­tack it­self. It in­volved more than 300 Ja­panese fighter planes and bombers and killed more than 2,000 Amer­i­cans, wounded more than 1,000 oth­ers, and de­stroyed or dam­aged scores of U.S. war­ships and air­craft.

A glass dis­play holds a small piece of a Ja­panese plane shot down in the bat­tle, as well as a copy of the first hastily typed dis­tress mes­sage sent out from the naval base.


Other items on dis­play in­clude a large pair of binoc­u­lars from the bridge of the USS Ari­zona. The badly bombed bat­tle­ship sank in the at­tack, killing more than 1,000 of­fi­cers and crew mem­bers.

On the ex­hi­bi­tion walls, the out­rage and sor­row of U.S. news­pa­per head­lines is con­trasted with the eu­pho­ria and ex­ul­ta­tion ex­pressed in Ja­panese post­cards, pho­tos and news­pa­pers at the time.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also re­flects on the height­ened fear and anger over Ja­panese liv­ing in Amer­ica, and the ex­pe­ri­ences of Ja­panese fam­i­lies forced into in­tern­ment camps.

Through pho­tos, letters and other per­sonal ef­fects, it spot­lights the story of Tom Ka­sai, a Los An­ge­le­sarea res­i­dent who served in the U.S. Army while his wife and par­ents were re­lo­cated to a camp in Ari­zona.

Ka­sai was wounded serv­ing in France and awarded the Pur­ple Heart, which is in­cluded in the dis­play along with his uni­form and other medals.

As vis­i­tors com­plete the ex­hi­bi­tion, they’re con­fronted with an as­sort­ment of but­tons, pins, stamps and other keep­sakes pro­duced in the wake of the at­tack.

All bear the na­tional ral­ly­ing cry: “Re­mem­ber Pearl Har­bor.”


Aa pair of binoc­u­lars once be­long­ing to the bat­tle­ship USS Ari­zona are on dis­play as part of an ex­hibit at The Mu­seum of World War II, Bos­ton, in Natick, Mass.

A dis­play of news clip­pings and me­men­tos from 1941 form part of an ex­hibit at The Mu­seum of World War II.

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